Twenty-seven players remain, and nine of them will be the toast of the poker world by the end of Monday, the final day of the 2016 World Series of Poker until late October, when the Main Event reconvenes.
In the lead is Czech player Vojtech Ruzicka, who bagged 26.415 million. Ruzicka, a former European Poker Tour high roller champ, eliminated Elliott Peterman in 28th when his ace-king got there against for a pot of almost 7 million. That forced all of the remaining chips into bags with new seats assigned to the surviving players for Monday's Day 7, which will play down to a final table.
Michael Ruane sits in second with 24.565 million and he's followed by a pair of online poker legends in Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy (23.86 million) and Aussie James “Andy McLEOD” Obst (19.56 million).
Top 10 Chip Counts
Ruane, who said he plays professionally online and moved back home to New Jersey when online poker was legalized, said it's been smooth sailing most of the way for him. He came into the day with just 5.6 million but said he went four-for-four on showdowns and is feeling more at ease than he would have expected given his lack of big-time live experience.
“I just opened a bunch, got raises through, and didn't really see a lot of rivers,” he said. “I'm feeling pretty comfortable actually. I'm kind of surprised at how comfortable I am because I'm kind of out of practice live.”
For evidence of Ruane's good fortune, look no further than an all-in pot he played against Daniel Retallick with 39 players left right after dinner. Ruane got Retallick at risk with against , and two kings flopped, with another player telling Ruane he folded a queen. Nonetheless, it was a turn and a safe river to send the pot to Ruane.
Obst had a similar Day 6 experience in terms of avoiding the bumpy ride that often accompanies a deep run in a big tournament.
Obst steeled himself for a tough day when he saw he drew what he called the toughest table of the bunch, with Tom Marchese seated on his immediate left with a pile, and Jason Les and Jared Bleznick also at the table.
As it turned out, Obst said he had some cooler-type situations go his way, such as when he busted Les with jacks against nines and when he flopped a set against the queens of Gorki Oliveira. In the end, the toughest adjustment he had to make was moving from the featured table to the outer table and acclimating himself to a faster pace of play.
“It couldn't have gone too much more smoothly,” he said. “It's pretty surprising how stress free it was at the end of the day.”
Valentin Vornicu (17.45 million), Kenny Hallaert (15.465 million), Marchese (15.42 million), Jared Bleznick (8.3 million), Griffin Benger (6.53 million), and Antoine Saout (5.525 million) also still have pulses. Saout is attempting to become the second player to make two WSOP Main Event final tables in the November Nine era.
Jeff Hakim bagged the second-shortest stack with 4.375 million, and while he isn't thrilled, he plans to come in ready to do his best to spin it up.
"There's no room for error," he said. "This situation could never, ever come up again, so you just have to be prepared. I feel a little dejected entering tomorrow with only 22 bigs which is never a great feeling but hey, I've been in that situation many times before and we can definitely try to run it up."
Some of the notable players who fell during Day 6 play included Paul Volpe (29th), Dan Colman (31st), Max Silver (33rd), Chris Klodnicki (45th), Tony Gregg (50th), Dietrich Fast (55th), and Brian Yoon (60th).
The elimination of Volpe, who ran queens into the aces of Thomas Miller, means Jason Mercier has clinched WSOP Player of the Year honors.
Play resumes Monday at noon, with more than 80 minutes still left in Level 31 (100,000/200,000/30,000).
Some players might feel more pressure with a big stack and the final day of the tournament looming, but it's the polar opposite situation for Ruane.
“I think I feel less pressure because I'm not really in jeopardy of going bust right away,” he said. “I don't really feel nervous or pressure right now, which I kind of expected I would.”
With so few players left, the goal of making the November Nine – which starts in late October this year – is finally within reach. What was once a dream now feels realistic in the mind of Obst.
“When there's still a few hundred left, there's still a battle within yourself to recognize that it's very unlikely to go your way still,” he said. “Now that there's only three tables, I think my attitude might be little different. I'll be thinking this is for real. This isn't going to come around too often and I'm just going to make the most of every chance I have tomorrow."
For more on Day 6 of the 2016 WSOP Main Event, including looking ahead to Day 7, check out the latest episode of the PokerNews Podcast.
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